Talk Talent To Me LIVE

Marvin Stickel, Amy Knapp

Talk Talent To Me records in front of a LIVE audience at Hired HQ. Google’s Marvin Stickel talks authenticity, Redpoint’s Amy Knapp talks about career pathing, and Rob has some thoughts about Pant Suits.

Episode Transcript


00:11 Michelle: Okay, well, welcome to Hired. My name is Michelle. I’m the one who’s been sending you all the invites and reminders, making sure that you show up tonight.


00:21 Michelle: Thanks. [chuckle] So, welcome to our very first Talk Talent To Me live. So, you may be familiar with our podcast and we had this great idea to do it in front of a live studio audience and have our recruiters and talent leaders to show up and be part of the fun, because as you all may or may not know, the podcast host is led by a very, very engaging and funny Rob Stevenson.


01:02 Rob: Hi, thank you, thank you. Thank you, Michelle, thank you everyone. Thanks for being here, how’s it going? So glad you all are here. We’re making podcast history tonight, or HR Tech podcast history anyway. It’s so great to look out and see all your smiling faces, we’re gonna have some fun tonight. Who has been to an HR Tech vendor panel discussion event before? Hands, nods. This is gonna be nothing like that. We’re gonna enjoy ourselves, we’re gonna play some recruiting-centric games, we’re gonna get to know all y’all. It’s gonna be a really good time.

01:34 Rob: My name’s Rob Stevenson, I am Hired’s humble podcaster in-residence, and I have been cranking out sweet, sweet audio-based recruitment content on a weekly basis four years now. And so, I will be your host tonight. Before we get going, I figured I’d give you a little background on what it is we’re doing here. If you never heard the podcast before, I would not be surprised. [chuckle] No, if you’ve never heard the show before, here’s all you need to know. Every week I bring in my favorite people in the recruitment space, directors of recruitment, VPs of HR, heads of talent, you name it, I get them in here and they talk talent to me.

02:13 Rob: So, that’s about it. We’re gonna get started in just a minute here. Before we get going, I really brought out the big guns for you tonight with our guests. They’re amazing people, I can’t wait for you to meet them. We’re gonna do that in just a minute. And so, I guess at some point we should start the show here. So, I’m going to retire to my desk here.


02:32 Rob: My David Letterman-style desk. How great is this? You’re supposed to do that, I learned that from David Letterman. Okay, before we get going, there’s one thing I have to do and it’s very important, so please bear with me for just a minute.


02:52 Rob: There we go. Our first guest made his mark by founding the very first diversity-focused recruitment team at Google. He then went on to Pandora, he was the head of sourcing at Coinbase, and now he’s back home at Google. Give it up for the bad boy of recruiting, Marvin Stickel.


03:11 Rob: Marvin.

03:12 Marvin Stickel: Hey, Rob.

03:13 Rob: How are you?

03:14 MS: I can’t complain. Who would care anyway?


03:18 Rob: First question for you, Marvin. How do you manage to lead a recruiting team at Google while simultaneously filming all your scenes as the villain in Black Panther 2?


03:29 MS: Damn. Okay…

03:32 Rob: It’s supposed to be a compliment.

03:33 MS: No, it was good.


03:34 MS: I get it. [03:35] ____.

03:37 Rob: Yeah, yeah, that’s true, that’s true.

03:39 MS: I don’t know to answer that outside of, get your push-ups in, everybody, and…

03:44 Rob: Eat your Wheaties, that kind of thing.

03:45 MS: Eat your Wheaties, absolutely.

03:46 Rob: So, what have you been up to at Google, besides being the poster Instagram account for #familygoals?

03:51 MS: It’s been fun, man. So, I came back and I’ve been leading our Daydream team. Everybody familiar with Daydream? Act like it. Perfect, thank you. Thank you, Matt. [chuckle]

04:02 Rob: Thank you, both of you.

04:02 MS: Got some Googlers in the house. Yeah, both of you. No, it’s great, it’s an Oculus competitor, essentially. It is in the virtual reality, augmented reality space, and it’s a cool Google product, check it out.

04:15 Rob: So what specifically have you been doing there? It’s a lot of AI or hardware roles? What are the roles you’re hiring for?

04:20 MS: Really everything you could think of. Like most business units at Google, it is a stand-alone small business, so hardware engineers, electrical, mechanical, software books, marketing, finance, you name it. We’re hiring ’em and it’s been great.

04:36 Rob: So, what’s it been like going from Coinbase, relatively small company, SMB, to back to this behemoth?

04:43 MS: Behemoth, that’s a fun word. Wow, it’s been great. Look, end of the day, Google is home. And that’s corny, but it’s true. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough in life to spend your nine-to-five in a place where you feel so comfortable and so natural and authentic, that… I don’t know, it’s a high. You start chasing that feeling in other places, but you already had it. So, it’s been really, really awesome to get back to Google and just feel like myself.

05:13 Rob: What do you mean by “authenticity”?

05:15 MS: Can I tell a quick story?

05:17 Rob: Yeah, please. I’d love…

05:18 MS: How much time have we got?

05:19 Rob: All night. Well, an hour.

05:21 MS: Oh, really quick story. Okay. So, I was recruiting at an agency, like a lot of folks start, and it was killing me because I was a suit and tie, wing-tip shoes, polished every day, BS-type gig. And while it was a really great learning experience, I feel like I had to put on a costume every single day. And I was ready to get out of the industry altogether when a friend of mine said, “Hey, before you pack up your car and drive down to LA to be a screenwriter and work at Foot Locker or be a waiter, whatever it is you’re going to do, you should check us out at Google. Just check us out. What do you got to lose? Come as yourself and if it works, great, if it doesn’t, take off. You’re taking off anyway.” And I was obviously super impressed by what I saw. I was actually encouraged to be more myself through the interview process. I started to default to those interview voices.

06:20 Rob: Right, sure, yeah.

06:21 MS: Right? Trying to answer questions right versus… Excuse me, correctly versus…

06:25 Rob: [chuckle] For example, yeah.

06:27 MS: Right, for example, versus just answering questions the way that I would prefer to, as myself. And not only did they flag that, they asked me to start over. We were to go through the whole process again. I was my authentic self, and when I walked out of that interview in… Whatever that was, 2009… It’s a long time ago. They said, “You know what, if you’re this person and you can be this person all the time, your authentic self, you’re gonna be great here. And I promise we’ll do everything we can to support you and water those seeds.” And they have, to their credit. So, that’s what I mean.

07:00 Rob: I love that. And is that something you can encourage candidates to do when you’re interviewing them? Can you sense that someone’s sweating, that they’re trying to answer questions correctly and be like, “Hey, let’s dial it a back second. Who are you really? You don’t have to put on this show.”

07:14 MS: Yeah, totally. And by the way, if you’re a Nervous Pervis, that’s okay too. If that’s who actually are, be nervous, that’s okay. Don’t act like you’re not a nervous person, that’s fine too. Be who you are authentically and that’ll just shine through. And really, it’ll impact your work in a way more positive way, just comfortability-wise, what you bring to the table, how you present yourself to strangers and friends. Yes, we totally encourage that with our candidates.

07:41 Rob: I love it. So are you on the… You’re staffing lead, so are you sourcing, are you in meetings all day? What does your day-to-day look like?

07:49 MS: Yes, so I was talking to my guy Kijabe earlier. What’s up, Kijabe?

07:53 Rob: Shoutout to Kijabe.

07:54 MS: Shoutout to Kijabe, always. I planned to get up to San Francisco today around three o’clock, and that’s because he cleared my calendar after two o’clock. And anyone in recruiting, especially those of us that lead teams, know there’s no chance in hell that was gonna stand up. So, two o’clock hits and things start to populate my calendar, and before you know it, I’m just in meetings all day. And that’s essentially how it goes. I’m a new father, essentially.

08:19 Rob: Congratulations.

08:20 MS: Thank you. It’s two and a half years, so not that new.


08:24 MS: It still feels new.

08:25 Rob: It’s new to her.

08:26 MS: It’s new to her, yeah. But yeah, so essentially, the big thing for me is trying to get in anything that’s gonna move the dial after work or before work, because during the day it is pretty much filled up with these incremental meetings that will move the ball just a little bit.

08:42 Rob: Got it. Marvin, I wanna hear more for you. But before we get too far into this, I want to bring up our next guest, who was the director of recruitment at Chegg throughout their IPO, which involved some serious growth and hiring for the most esoteric roles. Now, she is a senior talent partner at Redpoint Ventures. Give it up for Amy Knapp.


09:04 Rob: You slide down the bench a little bit there?

09:06 Amy Knapp: Thank you.

09:07 Rob: There’s an extra mic for you there.

09:09 AK: Ooh.

09:10 Rob: Mind the gap. Amy, how are we?

09:12 MS: Mind the gap’s hilarious.

09:13 AK: I’m well, how are you?

09:14 Rob: Good. Welcome, so glad you’re here. Welcome to San Francisco.

09:17 AK: Thank you.

09:18 Rob: You’re bi-coastal now, right?

09:19 AK: I am bi-coastal.

09:20 Rob: Can I ask you a question about being bi-coastal?

09:22 AK: Yes.

09:22 Rob: Does bi-coastal mean twice a coast or once every two coasts?

09:25 AK: [chuckle] All good questions, Rob, good questions. I am spending the majority of my time outside Boston, for the last two years. 13 years before that, I was out here. So, I had the best of both worlds, my grass is always green.

09:40 Rob: Love it.

09:41 AK: Where I can go back to my little, small-town suburb in the North Shore of Boston and on the water and just no one’s talking about tech, which is…

09:52 Rob: Must be refreshing, yeah.

09:52 AK: Actually really nice. They’re like, “Have you had of this Twitter thing?” and I’m like, “Yeah.”


09:57 AK: But then, I still am very plugged in to what’s going on out here, which is really exciting. And I have a really supportive team at Redpoint that said, “Let’s give it six months and see how it works,” and it’s been two years now, so working remotely. So that was a new experience, but it’s fun.

10:10 Rob: Got it, great. So, what are you doing now in this trip out to the Bay Area? What are you working on?

10:15 AK: I’m here for you.

10:16 Rob: Oh, how about that?

10:16 AK: Yeah, this is great.

10:17 Rob: The first time we podcast-ed together was in 2015, and my podcast rig was the equivalent of two tin cans with a string connecting them. So I think…

10:25 AK: Yeah, we’ve upgraded. This is good.

10:26 Rob: We have upgraded. Look, Ma, no cans. [chuckle]

10:29 AK: Look… No cans.

10:31 Rob: I’m sorry, don’t encourage that, don’t laugh at that.

10:32 AK: [chuckle] So I typically, I get to dictate my own travel schedule, which is awesome. I’m usually out here once or twice a month. It’s a long flight. Yesterday was a long day for me, but…

10:44 Rob: Yeah, yeah of course.

10:44 AK: When I’m out here, my schedule is packed with meetings with my internal team at Redpoint, all our partners, getting face time with them, since I’ve missed those drive-bys with them; meeting with our founders in our portfolio, we’re investing a lot, which is awesome that new companies are getting funding and meeting with talent leaders in our portfolio companies, helping them and then candidates. And yeah, that pretty much packs my schedule, which is good. So I’m doing all of that, this trip out here.

11:13 Rob: If I’m a recruiter and I’m at a company where I get access to my talent partner, how can I best leverage that relationship? Because it seems to me that you get to go in in all these companies, and you go in and then you say, “Do this, this, and this,” and then you come back in a quarter and either have done it or they haven’t done it. Is that kinda how it works? What’s the best way that recruiting teams can utilize you, besides listening to you and doing everything you say?

11:37 AK: That’s it. No, it’s… So we… Redpoint, for those of you who don’t know, Redpoint’s a venture capital fund that invests both in early-stage companies as well as later-stage companies. And so, the early-stage companies will get in when they’re most often raising their Series A, so it’s small teams, and they almost always don’t have a talent team or talent person. And so, it’s me working with the founding team and the leadership team there on thinking through what their head count plan is like and what resources they need to be able to get there.

12:05 AK: And I’ll do anything from interview training with them, we’ll audit… Go through what a process looks like, what candidate experience looks like, “Yes, you actually should be getting back to everybody you talk with.” And then, a lot of compensation, benchmarking questions, and thinking through that, on-boarding. Really, any of the early talent infrastructure and employee experience programs, I’ll help them think through that. Now, my early background was in HR, so I’m also helping them think through some of their people programs but I am definitely not an expert there. I’d rather not get into any of the thorny stuff with them.

12:42 AK: So, it’s all the fun stuff of getting people on board. And then, a highly leveraged way that I can help us help them find their internal recruiter. So, I’ll do a lot of those recruiter searches, which aren’t easy, as everybody should know but… And then, when that person’s on board, it’s really working with them on, like, “Okay, what are the best… What are other companies at our stage doing for systems, for metrics, for employer for all programs, for DNI initiatives?”

13:04 AK: So it’s a lot of programmatic things. I’ve done a number of events for our portfolio and bringing them together. But working with… I don’t do recruiting for our companies, but I’ll say, “Listen, if you have a hard position, shoot them my way.” You never know who’s in our network, what’s coming up from other searches. We get introduced to a lot of people. I’ll do anything that we can to have it top of mind for us and our investment team and we’ll make introductions, connections when it’s appropriate. So, I do get a lot of…

13:33 AK: I just wanna let everybody to know I’m an extension of your team. Think about me, anything talent- or people-related, I don’t know everything, so if I don’t know, I’ll let you know, but I can usually find somebody who might know it, and I can make that connection. And so, anybody can reach out to me, really, for that stuff.

13:48 Rob: Got it. Once you’ve got past the first recruiting hire, once there’s a team in place and the engine starts to hum, do you ever just say, “Alright, now go recruit, you’re ready, you’re done, or I’m done anyway”?

14:00 AK: Yeah, but… Really, I’ve developed some really great relationships with those folks, so I just say, “Always just still reach out to me.” And we’ve done a lot of really fun stuff with some of our growth companies that don’t need me, or don’t… They…

14:15 Rob: Don’t say that. [chuckle]

14:16 AK: But they have a VP of talent, they have a whole talent team that they’re humming along, but they’ll still reach out and say like, “Hey, if you know anybody for this position,” or “Hey, we’re… ” Looker is one of our companies in there, in Santa Cruz, and they’re like, “If you ever wanna do an event down here, in Santa Cruz, let’s do it,” or “We’re gonna do an event in the city, can we use your space?” So there’s other ways that we can collaborate and do things. And a lot of times, at the later stages, it’s more about benchmarking really. What are other companies doing that we should be thinking about?

14:45 Rob: At what point would you say the talent team is mature enough where your relationship can shift to the one you just described?

14:52 AK: It’s typically when… When I think about my roles, I really want to try to build up the internal competency of a team. And so, when they usually hire an internal talent person, it really depends on who that person is. If it’s a head of talent or director or VP, a really seasoned person, they don’t need me coming in and raining on their parade. It’s their show, but we can work on some projects together. If it’s a more… What I’ve done sometimes… Or the founder will say, “Hey, we have this person, but she’s early in their career or he’s early in their career, would you mind still staying part of our team and being involved in helping with some advisory or guidance and counseling consulting work?” So, it all depends on who they hire for that talent role.

15:42 Rob: Sure, yeah. Got it. Well, now we know Amy a little bit, we know Marvin a little bit. At this juncture, I’d like to shift gears a little bit. As recruiters, you are constantly adapting to new challenges involving technologies, outreach and complicated interconnected webs of hiring managers, candidates, HR business partners and various internal stakeholders. There’s no real playbook for how you deal with these sticky wickets, so I thought I would present a couple of these problems and have Marvin and Amy solve them for you in a segment I’m calling “Sticky Wickets.”



16:17 Rob: Yeah, thank you, thank you. Now, in an effort to really demand the best of our guests here and make the wickets even stickier, Marvin and Amy have not seen these sticky wickets. How many times can I say sticky wickets? [chuckle] At least one more time, probably. And so, they’re hearing them for the first time along with all of you. I’m ambushing them with these cards, so I hope it works. Who wants to go first?

16:41 AK: Marvin.

16:41 Rob: Marvin. [chuckle]

16:43 MS: Marvin it is.

16:44 Rob: Marvin it is. Marvin, one of your hiring managers has referred their own candidate for a role and you suspect they’re giving them an easier time in the interview process than other candidates. How do you correct the hiring manager and ensure fairness in the candidate’s interview process and all the other candidates interview processes?

17:03 MS: So, there’s a couple of layers there. First and foremost, I think that if you’re gonna work with someone at that level, VP directory or a hiring manager, you have to be able to embrace awkwardness, I think. So, if you’re able to take a deep breath, understand that a conversation may be uncomfortable for you and then power through, anyway. I think a lot of times that’s the hardest thing, just getting through that first layer of, “Man, I really don’t wanna have this conversation.” But if you know it’s gonna be awkward, go do it.

17:35 MS: But yeah, so having that conversation, holding everyone to the same standard. And if you take the approach that your intention is to make sure that no one gets a leg up, I feel like just from a… Just a natural way that we interact with each other perspective, folks will be like, “Okay, I get it, fair enough.” I actually had one of these scenarios recently, and raising the idea that someone could potentially get a leg up was the differentiator in that conversation. Nobody wanted to give someone a leg up, they want us to take a hard look at someone. But the differentiator was, changing the bar or doing extra work to set somebody up for success, and just really setting this person straight, that we don’t do that. Everyone is treated the exact same, and this is our process.

18:26 Rob: So you would frame it not just as like, “Hey you’re doing this, stop it,” but as “This is the impact of… Don’t you want everyone to be evaluated the same way?” “Yes.” “Okay, well now that I’ve led you down this path, got it.”

18:39 MS: That’s the path that I would use.

18:41 Rob: Okay. Amy, anything to add?

18:44 AK: No, but I’ve had this situation before and luckily I’ve had some really good hiring managers where they’ve said, “Listen, this is my candidate, but I wanna make sure that we follow the same process because it’s a different company, it’s a different environment, and I wanna make sure that we’re hiring for the right person for our team, and so let’s get a couple of other people involved and let’s go through the same process, but I’m gonna stay a little bit out of the process.” You know? And…

19:09 Rob: Sure, yeah.

19:10 AK: And that’s worked, and so if that were to come up again, I probably would point to that and say, like, “Hey, you know what’s worked really well is you taking a step back just so we make sure that we’re being objective and we’re treating all the candidates the same way and going through our right process.” It’s worked out really well for these teams.

19:26 Rob: Got it. And kind of back to what you said Marvin, the whole, like, “Own the awkwardness,” talent people have to have a lot of uncomfortable conversations. You just sort of have to get used to that. Maybe it’s like getting over the phone screen, the comp conversation, that happens on a regular basis, so you sort of have to just work through it, right?

19:45 AK: Walking somebody out of an interview early.

19:47 MS: Totally.

19:47 Rob: Oh, yeah.

19:48 MS: I think you have to embrace unpopularity also. Right?


19:51 MS: And when you come into a job like this and you hope that everyone’s gonna be great and you’re all gonna like each other, but chances are, you are gonna have an awkward conversation. You are gonna have to have a hard conversation. And rather than everyone like you, I think having direct, really “moving the ball forward” conversations are… Everyone respects that in the end.

20:10 Rob: Got it. Next sticky wicket for you Amy…

20:13 MS: Sticky wicket?

20:13 Rob: Sticky wicket. You had a good answer Amy, this an easy for you: Your hiring manager and team love the candidate you’ve put in front of them. After a litany of strong yeses in the ATS, they are thrilled to make an offer. Once the offer is out, the candidate gives considerable pushback on compensation, is questioning the company handbook and culture, and has generally shifted their persona from the person your team met and liked during the process. Do you continue to compromise to make the hire or do you rethink the offer?

20:44 AK: You rethink the offer.

20:45 Rob: Okay.

20:46 AK: Maybe. [chuckle] How was that for clarity? Yeah, we had a situation like this at one of my last companies where we had a great candidate and he wooed everybody. Everybody thought it was the right hire. We made the offer and he accepted and wanted to review the employee handbook, and I think this was right… At the same time, he said like, “Let me review the offer as well as the employee handbook.” So we did that ’cause everybody should know what they’re getting into. And I think that there was no less than 10 things that he had very specific questions in particular, questions on.

21:25 Rob: Oof, yeah. That’s too many.

21:26 AK: Which I’m very… Hey, I love open feedback on things, but for the lack of a better… He became like a little bit of a weirdo and he… It was… Red flags were all everywhere and we’re like, “What happened, you know? This wasn’t the… ” At one point, I thought, “Do you know I’m being punked?” Right? Like you don’t really have another question about this, right? And then the last thing, and they were just all increasingly, really, really just off-color. And then he came back and he finally said, “Well, and I also get the employee referral bonus for referring myself?”

22:02 Rob: Stop. No.

22:03 AK: No, that’s a true story. And so finally, I remember…

22:08 Rob: Wait, wait, wait. Was he saying like, “I referred myself for this role?”

22:10 AK: I referred myself. I applied for this role. I referred myself, so I should be getting my referral bonus, and I think that was the last thing we said.

22:16 Rob: Amazing.

22:17 AK: “You know what? I don’t think that this is the right match for you or for us, and I think that you’d be a better fit somewhere else. So we’ve talked about it as a team, and we’re going to… We’re going to rescind the offer.” And he was so okay with that that I actually think he was doing this on purpose.

22:31 Rob: He was like trying to talk his way out of getting hired?

22:32 AK: I think so, or just to see what he could do to rattle us or something, but that was really odd. So I think this is…

22:39 Rob: Yeah.

22:41 AK: Any time your interview process and acceptance and leading up, it’s like when your best foot is forward for candidates like this is where they’re on their best behavior. And so it was a little bit of a 360 where I was like, “I had no idea what happened or 180. I have no idea what happened with this candidate and did we miss something earlier?” But we decided to rescind the offer.

23:04 Rob: You probably feel like you dodged a bullet then with that candidate, right?

23:06 AK: Totally.

23:06 Rob: Had they just kept their mouth shut and you hired him, it would’ve come out in some other way, right?

23:09 AK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So that was good. So, I mean, anything that’s weird, even if it’s like the offer is gone or a bad reference comes in after the offer’s already been accepted, made and accepted on a condition of reference checks, you gotta have those awkward conversations with the hiring manager and say, “This is it.” And then you have to have the awkward conversation with the candidate too and say, “You know what? This came up and this isn’t… We’re gonna have to change our mind.”

23:31 Rob: Right. Is that… So that’s a good example of rescinding an offer when a reference comes in and that that’s, that’s that bad. Was it one of their references? Was it a back channel reference? Because the idea that you have this internal process where your, that your, you respect and that you’ve built and that you trust and then this torpedo can come out of nowhere and just ruin the whole thing, is that fair to the whole reference process? Like should you just not do them or is that the reason why you should do them?

24:02 AK: No, I definitely, we’ll still do references, and you have to get as much data as you possibly can and you’re never gonna have all the data you need on a candidate, but you have to get to the point where… Not just checking the boxes. I think you have to be really intentional about who you’re reaching out to and what you’re asking the references. And I do think it’s weird when it’s a reference that somebody gives you and it ends up being a poor one. I’m like, “Wow, this is somebody you gave” but if you’re asking the right questions and digging in, you can unearth things that are a little bit of a… It could be a concern that you wanna then bring up potentially to the candidate and have them have a chance to address that. But a couple of the times where we’ve rescinded offers for bad… It’s usually a back channel.

24:51 Rob: Right? If your reference that you listed is bad or even questionable, that should be it right there. ‘Cause you either can’t… Either can’t find three people who will speak well of you or you have such little interpersonal awareness that you don’t even know that this person won’t speak well of you.

25:06 AK: Yeah, and I’ve had people that I’ve reached out to, references and they say, “Oh I don’t even know that, I was a reference for this person.” And that’s weird.

25:13 Rob: I kinda know him. Yeah. Got it. Marvin, your eyebrows are raised.

25:19 MS: I am just wondering… Yeah, they… That’s genetics.


25:21 MS: So, you were… You shouldn’t ever… Rob and I talked about this last time we had a conversation, but a lot of times hiring is like a relationship. Like don’t ignore the red flags. Sometimes people misrepresent who they are to you, and don’t do everything in your power to look for the best version of this person. Now, every case is different, totally, right? But like if references are coming back and they are negative, we’re also in a sales business where numbers are important and sometimes you have to weigh, “Man, this manager really wants somebody to start though versus having to start a search all over again.”

25:56 Rob: Right? You can’t succumb to that pressure though, right?

25:58 AK: It’s not worth it.

26:00 MS: You can not succumb… It’s not. You’re just gonna end up back filling this person anyway or even worse, this person works at your company for 10 years. You have a nightmare monster that becomes a manager.

26:09 AK: You can’t get rid of him.

26:09 MS: And you can’t get rid of him. Yeah, and you end up having to support this person also. So don’t ignore the flags.

26:16 Rob: Got it. I have in front of me one more sticky wicket. And it’s just…

26:22 MS: Sticky wicket.


26:22 Rob: Juncture… Thank you. At this juncture, is there someone who would like to come up here and take a whack at one of these?

26:28 MS: Take a whack at a sticky wicket?

26:31 Rob: No there’s…

26:31 AK: Or get to say sticky wicket.

26:32 Rob: Yeah, as many times as you want. There’s someone’s being volunteered by their friends. Do you wanna come on up? Can we go, find this person.

26:39 MS: Come on up.

26:40 Rob: Give it up for this guy. Is there a microphone over there by you. Is there one under the pillow maybe? Oh, there is it.

[background conversation]

26:57 Rob: Hi there, how is it going?

27:00 S5: Excellent, how are you?

27:01 Rob: Is your microphone on?

27:02 S5: Hopefully not.


27:04 Rob: What’s your name?

27:07 S5: I’m Jay-C.

27:08 Rob: Jay-C welcome.

27:09 S5: Previously reported to Marvin.

27:11 Rob: Oh no kidding.

27:11 S5: Fortunately and unfortunately…

27:12 Rob: How about that?

27:13 S5: And I’m here with [27:14] ____ and Riley is back there.

27:16 Rob: Cool, what’s your title?

27:17 S5: I’m a Recruiter.

27:20 Rob: Recruiter.

27:20 S5: And I was sourcing over at Coinbase with Marvin.

27:22 Rob: Got it, okay. Are you ready to attack this, I think they have to be… Okay, that’s perfect. Just lean as far off the couch as you can [chuckle] Are you ready to attack this sticky wicket? [chuckle] You have increased your pipelines diversity representation by a considerable margin. But you’re told by executives that in relation to the entire company, “It doesn’t move the needle.” What do you do to tell them… Sorry, what do you tell them and how would you go about moving that stubborn little needle?

27:48 S5: That’s probably gonna be a pretty aggressive conversation. If they’re not open to it. I’m probably gonna be looking for a new place of employment.

27:57 Rob: Love it.

28:00 S5: It’s pretty straight forward at this point in time. In terms of moving the needle specifically, I’m in security recruiting that from a DNI standpoint, it’s just a disaster, there’s not a better adjective to put on it. And if you don’t have buy-in from leadership on one of the most important issues societal we’re facing, don’t spend your time there. But you need to put it in their face that aggressively.

28:25 Rob: Yeah, I love it. Give it up, give it up. In the event that they’re bought in, but they’re like, “Hey I know that the reputation is good, but we’ve got 2% more people, even though it was 20 people, for example. And there’s not seen a perspective of the time it takes. What’s the approach there?

28:44 S5: I mean that’s obviously a good question. For me, any time it comes to DNI, I’m way over gonna push for roles, because quite frankly, we’re not gonna get there, that point, that conversation that you just said, let’s be real that conversation doesn’t happen. It’s always the flip of it, but that’s my personal opinion on it.

29:07 Rob: Got it, great answering. Thank you so much Jay-C. You’re excused, yeah. You’re excused [laughter] Anything to add, either of you, did Jay-C nail it?

29:17 MS: Totally.

29:18 AK: I think it was good.

29:18 Rob: Great.

29:19 MS: Loved it, well trained.


29:23 Rob: Okay, let’s keep this train rolling. When I… Earlier I asked you if there was some kind of challenge you were experiencing that was really difficult, would anyone like to come up here and talk about that challenge? No, no, no volunteers?

29:42 AK: Everybody’s rocking and rolling. No challenges I like that.

29:45 MS: Easy jobs.

29:45 Rob: Yeah, no, no, everyone is really, really great at their job, [chuckle]

29:46 MS: Easy jobs.

29:47 AK: Recruiting is easy, didn’t you know?

29:48 Rob: Yeah, we don’t even need a podcast about it. [laughter] Well that’s okay, we can just hang out, what else are you working on Amy? . [laughter]

29:57 AK: Any recruiters looking for a new job?

29:58 Rob: Who’s here with their boss right now and isn’t gonna say so? . [laughter]

30:03 AK: Just email me. No, I think one of the most difficult parts of my role right now is helping our early stage companies find their first recruiter. And I didn’t think it would be as hard as it is, and as hard as it has been, but it has been really, really hard. It’s a hard role to find somebody that is seasoned enough to be able to build a process out as they’re also recruiting and being able to work directly with founders and really lead by influence your team. And great recruiters are employed and they’re not on the market long so it’s really, really hard to find the right person.

30:41 Rob: Is it like a Head of talent type of role? Is it someone who can do it all or are they gonna have to be able to grow into a director. What’s that profile like?

30:48 AK: Yeah, it’s… It can be a head of talent, but somebody really has to love sourcing and really be hands-on with doing all of it, even calendaring and even scheduling their own interviews. So…

31:00 Rob: They’re gonna be part RC, as well, presumably, right?

31:03 AK: Yeah, yeah until they can go ahead and hire somebody, which I always tell founders, one of the very early hires in recruiting to help your recruiter is you should invest the time into getting a really great coordinator. Even if it’s a shared resource at first.

31:18 Rob: Yes.

31:18 AK: But it’s, I mean it’s…

31:20 MS: God bless RCs.

31:22 Rob: Yes.

31:22 AK: Yeah, [laughter]

31:24 MS: Doing God’s work.

31:26 Rob: I’ve been hearing that a lot. People say your first hire, RC, hire them yesterday, shower them love and affection you will…

31:31 MS: Totally.

31:31 Rob: Your life will be easier.

31:32 AK: Yes, it will be. That’s one of the big challenges I’m working on right now, is getting these early, early teams. And it’s not a role that’s right for everybody, too, so you can be an amazing recruiter, full cycle recruiter somewhere, but not being the first one in. And that’s really hard to know if you’re gonna be a right fit for that stage of company. And a lot of it is chemistry with the founder too, which is also really difficult to navigate.

32:01 Rob: Of course, of course. Can we talk a second on that note about recruiter career pathing? It’s a topic that I haven’t really covered on this show at all. I’ve been meaning to. And Marvin you just made an interesting move. You were head of sourcing at a smaller company where you had a lot of responsibility. Now you’re at a bigger company with a smaller team presumably. Amy you were talking about the profile of the person who would take that role early on in the company. What’s my question? [laughter] I guess, when is it right to take that kind of role? Should you go and be that first recruiter at a start-up at a young company, is that gonna be good for your career? Under what circumstances should you do it? What’s your advice to people?

32:38 AK: It just depends on what you as an individual is motivated by and motivated to do. There are a lot of really amazing recruiter recruiting leaders here that don’t want be the first person in and work at a company at that stage either, where it’s like 20-25 people and you don’t know… You have no idea if you’re gonna be… You hope they’re gonna be really successful, the company, but it’s very… You’re not stable, there’s not a really, it’s not like you’re working just to keep lights on at night, but it’s…

33:08 AK: There’s a lot of unknowns and so sometimes that ambiguity is uncomfortable for people, so it really depends on like do you really wanna come in and help build this foundation of this company, and really be at that founding stage. A lot of people would say, “Yeah.” But there are a lot of people that are like, “Listen I can’t take that risk, right now. And so being at a little bit of a later stage where they have product-market fit, already, they’ve got the legs under them. That’s what I prefer to scale it and bring it to a next level. So it really depends on what the person is motivated by.

33:39 Rob: Right, and kind of where you already are in your career. Can I take this risk? Do I wanna learn these things or do I need to… Do I need to go to a bigger company and have that security, that kind of thing.

33:49 AK: And it depends, like when… I meet a lot of recruiting folks and there’ll be some folks that are from Google and they’ve been to Google… Been at Google for a long time and then we see like, “I really wanna change, I wanna go somewhere new.” I almost don’t wanna talk with them until they’ve actually already left Google or Facebook or whatever because there’s so many interesting opportunities that they can actually interview for at Google and stay and continue to feel like, “Hey I wanna make some impact.” Plus it’s very difficult for early-stage companies to compete, for comp packages with Google and Facebook, and so unless somebody has already made…

34:21 Rob: Yeah.

34:22 AK: That change. And aren’t completely motivated by the money then maybe they’re in a better position to take a risk.

34:32 Rob: So when you say you wait for them to actually leave, is that because you know that there will be like a counteroffer, or they’ll be like, “Well, what if you were gonna be over here because that’s how the talent development has been built out of that company.”

34:41 AK: And this isn’t only with recruiting, when I’m talking with a number of candidates that have been at Google for 10 plus years and they’re like I think I wanna change and I wanna… And I always ask, have you already left Google? No, I’m also interviewing for internal roles at Google and almost, I would say about 96%, 97% of the time they end up staying at Google in a different role. And so I’m like talk to me when you actually make the change because I know that…

35:08 Rob: You’ve been hurt before, not going down this path again. Yeah, I know. I…

35:11 AK: Yeah, I can’t do it. I can’t do it anymore.


35:13 Rob: Marvin, has that been your experience too?

35:15 MS: Yeah, totally. When I left…

[background conversation]

35:18 MS: When I left, I knew it was time. There was something sort of pulling at me, right? And I didn’t even consider any other internal opportunities, it was time to go, and then the same thing when I came back just one spot knew I was gonna go.

35:29 Rob: Got it. Should we move on to our last segment here? We’re gonna skip over this other segment, tune in next time I guess. For the rant wheel. [35:42] ____, thank you, thank you.


35:45 Rob: So if this is familiar to you, it’s because I stole the idea from a much more popular podcast and I have asked Marvin and Amy to submit some topics that they just wanna go off on. Some of them are recruitment related, some of them are not, they are micro-management, pant-suits, the irony of assholes, hotel decorations and bad Boston accents. Let’s give this…

36:10 AK: That was Marvin.

36:11 Rob: Give this sucker a spin.

36:12 MS: Just kidding. Just kidding.

36:15 Rob: Here we go.

36:17 Rob: It has landed on pant-suits, which was nominated by your humble host. Ladies and gentlemen, today in needlessly gender colloquialism, I give you pant-suits. Sometimes I wear a suit. Sometimes when I wear a suit, people say to me, “Hey Rob, nice suit.” Here’s the thing, my suits have pants, matching pants. All suits have pants, I have three suits, all of them pants, never does anyone say to me hey Rob, nice pants suit. But a woman puts on a jacket matching pants and a button-down, same thing I’m wearing and all of a sudden it’s nice pant-suit.

36:57 Rob: Guys, all suits have pants, it’s what makes a suit. I know you’re thinking, there’s such a thing as skirt suits, that’s not what I’m talking about. A skirt suit is not the default, that’s why you say skirt. Pants are the default, suit implies pants. Next time you see a woman in a nice suit, say nice suit, do not say nice pant-suit, end of rant. Let’s spin it again.


37:22 AK: I never met anybody that cared so passionately about pant-suit.

37:25 MS: I’m really sad about that.

37:26 Rob: I had him fired up over here. I’m feeling the adrenaline right now. I need a second to kinda cool down. It has landed on bad Boston accents.

37:33 AK: Oh, that’s mine.

37:34 Rob: Submitted by Amy. Amy, what’s the deal with bad Boston accent?

37:37 AK: Specifically, it’s bad Boston accents in movies, so movies that are set in Boston and…

37:43 Rob: [37:43] ____, that kind of thing.

37:43 AK: Oh, my God, right? And…

37:46 MS: Noted.

37:47 AK: I think I fairly have a very light accent. Living out here for 13 years, I think I lost it. However, people will stop me in a meeting, if I say the word idea and they’ll be like idea because that’s a thing we pronounce idea with an R, but… And my Boston accent does come out when I’m tired a lot.

38:04 Rob: I thought you were gonna say drinking.

38:06 AK: Well, I don’t drink anymore, but yes, yeah it used to. But… And they have these actors playing these… And you know who is the worst at it is Kevin Costner. I don’t know anybody if anybody is a big fan of Kevin Costner but he’s the worst at all accents ever.

38:20 Rob: Oh, you deeply offended Marvin.

38:22 AK: I hate Kevin Costner. I should have had a rant wheel just on Kevin Costner.

38:24 Rob: Kevin Costner.

38:25 AK: But no, he can’t do the… I don’t know, there’s a movie when I was in high school, I watched 13 times in the movie theater ’cause I was in love with Christian Slater and it was Robin Hood and…

38:35 Rob: Oh yeah, shout out, yeah.

38:36 AK: I’m really… Yeah. Bryan Adams.

38:37 Rob: Prince of Thieves.

38:38 AK: Prince of Thieves, right, you know it. And Kevin Costner was the only one that wasn’t using an accent in the movie, and it was set in England and so he was this normal dude, and then he does this movie “13 Days” which is about like, yeah.

38:51 MS: Cuban Missile Crisis, yeah.

38:52 AK: Yeah, and he’s like, “Oh, what we have here is… ” and it’s awful and it’s awful. So these people try to do these over, like these over-embellished accents that they think are Bostonian and it’s very frustrating.

39:05 Rob: No one talks like that. Yeah.

39:06 AK: No, well there are people that… I don’t know, I think it’s a normal Boston accent when you’re like, “Let’s go and get like a regular coffee at Dunks you know. But people are like really like…

39:16 Rob: That’s a good Boston accent though.

39:19 AK: Rant over.

39:20 Rob: Rant over, got it.



39:25 Rob: Let’s spin it one more time.

39:27 MS: Hope it’s me.

39:30 Rob: It has landed on the irony of assholes.

39:33 MS: Definitely me.

39:33 Rob: Submitted by Marvin.

39:36 MS: Submitted by me. So I’m gonna be really careful here. I feel like you can’t hear me.

39:40 Rob: Do you wanna take this one or the other one.

39:41 MS: How about we switch? How about that.

39:44 Rob: It’s better.

39:44 MS: I’m trying. I’m nasal, I was born this way.

39:46 Rob: [39:48] ____.

39:49 MS: Right, speaking of jackets shout out to the planned memo that we got.

39:52 Rob: I know I was gonna say I should have commented on that you guys really matched. I should have… It’s just…

39:54 AK: You didn’t get the memo.

39:57 Rob: No, I should of stuck my game up.

39:57 MS: Fair enough, you guys don’t care. [chuckle] So anyways, I wanna be really clear when I say asshole I don’t necessarily mean the traditional version of what you would consider to be an asshole, what I mean is that there’s folks that some of us don’t like. That’s just life, right? And to you this person will be an asshole.

40:17 Rob: Sure.

40:17 MS: Fair? They have family, they have friends. Not everybody thinks this person is an asshole. So I was gonna be really careful that I’m not generalizing this by any means and I got to say asshole like four times, which was fun, also.

40:29 Rob: We’re gonna earn the iTunes explicit tag in this episode.

40:31 MS: Let’s do it, yeah.

40:31 Rob: We’ve already got it. So, let’s make it count.

40:33 MS: It’s gonna cost you guys 299. So when I think about diversity and getting stakeholders involved right to the point, JC was making earlier. Sometimes what you’ll run into, I figure there’s three kinds of stakeholders when you’re talking to hire managers. There’s the A, diversity warrior, you walk into a meeting with them and they’re like, “Yeah, Marvin, what are we gonna do, How we gonna do this, how can I get down. Want to go to a conference?” Yeah man, what do you want me to wear, who do I talk to, set-up a coffee let’s get it. Those people are great and they’re great.

41:10 MS: B, Oh diversity is important to the company. Okay, well, I’m not gonna get in the way of that. Like send me some folks that count as inclusionary hires, and I’ll take a look at them and that’s awesome too. I’m with it, let’s do it, whatever. And then there’s C, those folks who are adamantly against the idea of doing any sort of consorted effort to bring in a different kind of demographic to your company.

41:33 Rob: And these are the people that say things like, “Bring me the best person and I’ll hire them.”

41:38 MS: Yes. Bring me the best person. Yes, whatever that means. Rant for a different day. But yes Rob, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Now here’s the irony. That opinion of C is also important to your company. Right? If we really care about inclusion and diversity, even that asshole needs to be at your company. And you should be able to leverage that sort of pushback in your conversation about why every perspective is important, even that person’s. Irony of assholes, I am done.


42:15 Rob: Thank you Marvin.


42:18 Rob: Well folks, we are creeping up on optimal podcast length here and we’re also creeping up more importantly on the end of all the content I had planned. So, I guess we should start winding down. If you’ve enjoyed yourself here, please subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify wherever fine podcasts are streamed. Even if you didn’t enjoy yourself, please subscribe because I got bills to pay, so go and do that. At this point I would just say thank you so much for being here. I’ve been Rob Stevenson, Amy Knapp’s been Amy Knapp, Marvin Stickel has been Marvin Stickel, you have all been amazing, wonderful, beautiful, recruiting darlings. Have a spectacular week and happy hunting.



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